Tips for a Successful Virtual Kids’ Party
Can’t celebrate your child’s birthday in-person this year? Don’t despair!. When family and friends live far away, someone is ill, or travel isn’t possible, virtual birthday parties can be a fun way to celebrate your kid’s big day
Planning a virtual party can seem overwhelming. There are so many different tools and technologies to choose from so it can be difficult to get guests in sync and on schedule, and it’s sometimes hard to keep little ones engaged. Luckily we have some helpful tips for how to address these challenges and host a successful virtual kids’ party!
Plan in Advance
Virtual parties can take time to set up so it’s important that you plan in advance. If you leave things to the last minute and don’t communicate with attendees well in advance, you’ll end up with unhappy guests. When software snafus happen, you can also end up with a delayed party and frustrated kids. The best way to prevent this is to inform attendees about important details such as date and time (including time zone!), a schedule, and the software you plan to use as soon as possible.
Take some time to research different conferencing platforms, talk to others who have hosted a virtual birthday party to see what worked for them, and communicate with your guests about what they can expect to ensure everyone is on track for a fun and successful event.
Choose a Conferencing Platform
It’s important to find a reliable video conference platform well before the party. There are many tools available for virtual kid parties such as Zoom and Skype. Be sure to take into consideration whether guests are likely to have laptops at home. If not, it’s best to look for a video platform that performs well on mobile phones.
It’s also important to consider hardware for the party. If possible, the larger the screen, the better. A bigger screen let’s everyone in your home to easily see others. Make sure guests also check that their webcam, microphone, and speakers are in working order and that they have good lighting.
Install any Necessary Software
Guests should set up the tools they need for the party well in advance. In addition to downloading the video chat app, be sure to let them know about any additional software they may need like a board game or video game apps. Encourage guests to install everything the day before the party, and to sign on at least 30 minutes before the party begins. This will give everyone plenty of time to troubleshoot if software isn’t compatible with specific devices or if they have to create personal accounts in order to use the platform.
Not confident a guest will get the hang of the conferencing platform? You may want to walk technophobes through any software downloads and do a test call beforehand so they’ll be ready to go for the big event!
Establish a Theme
Choose a theme for your virtual kids birthday party. A theme helps all other party details fall into place and can improve the overall experience of attendees. Some common, fun ideas for kids’ parties include themes around sports, princesses, animals, or favorite characters. Here are some ideas to engage with virtual party guests and get everyone into the theme:
- Dress Up. Encourage guests to dress up according to a specific theme. Tell everyone to keep their camera OFF until a certain time so you all can enjoy a big reveal moment. Remind attendees that they can use their imaginations to make their own masks, hats, etc. with items from around the house.
- Play Music. To help set the tone and create some ambiance, put together a themed playlist to have on in the background. Be sure to change the settings on your video chat to share the sound from your computer (so the quality is better).
- Decorate. Set up a festive backdrop for your virtual party with decorations. Streamers, balloons, and handmade signs are perfect! Encourage guests to decorate their own space to match the party theme.
- Send Love. Attendees can also personalize and send birthday eCards to send to the birthday kid that matches the party theme. Guests can record and send a personalized video message inside the card to make their birthday greetings extra special!
Send Out Fun Invitations
Invitations are often the first impression a guests has for your party. It’s the perfect opportunity to establish the party’s theme, create excitement, and set the party’s atmosphere.
Customize online birthday invitations for your virtual kids party. Choose from hundreds themes, personalize with the party details, and send via text or email. Best of all, you can send online invites specifically for kids parties, including kids characters invitations that feature beloved characters from iconic brands like Disney, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, and more.
Create a Schedule
It’s important to set up a schedule for the virtual party that includes time slots for various activities. This way, everyone will understand what’s expected of them ahead of the party. The schedule may start with “Greetings” so that the birthday kid can say hi to friends and family, followed by a virtual party game, watching a favorite youtube video together, and then the presentation of the cake. Be sure to send out the schedule at least a week before the party.
In terms of time, virtual parties should not be as long as in-person parties. The length of the party largely depends on the age of the children. Generally, parties for kids under 6 should be under 30 minutes, while older kids can go a bit longer.
Lastly, anticipate that not all transitions to new activities are going to be smooth. Be sure to “pad” each activity slot with a few extra minutes as we all know that kids can be unpredictable and sometimes technology doesn’t want to cooperate when we need it to!
Any activity that will keep kids active and engaged during a virtual party is key. Keep in mind the age of the guests and try to incorporate a game that matches the party theme if possible. Preparation is important as some games might require additional software. Here are a few game ideas to get you started.
- Virtual Scavenger Hunt: This involves searching for everyday items that are in your home in a specified amount of time. The most important thing to prepare for this activity is the actual scavenger hunt list.
- Talent Show: Let party guests show off their skills! Keep performances under one minute. Designate judges or, alternatively, keep it competition-free.
- Video or Board Games: Play a few rounds of the birthday kid’s favorite game over video chat. Here is an excellent source for playing board games online. With so many online versions of board games and apps for playing video games, you can’t go wrong! For older kids, trivia is an easy virtual game to facilitate.
- Simon Says: An oldie, but goodie. This is a simple yet fun game for little ones that will keep them active and moving!
Virtual birthday parties don’t mean that you have to say goodbye to sharing great food. Eating treats together can lend to the party atmosphere, especially if you collaborate on the snacks or desserts. Here are some ideas for how to eat together and share a favorite snack virtually.
- Provide a suggested “menu” on your birthday invitation with a few food items that guests are 1) likely to already have at home or 2) able to easily grab from the supermarket (think frozen pizza, pretzels, popcorn, juice).
- Send an easy recipe that parents can easily make with their kids, like Ants on a Log, Yogurt-Honey Fruit Dip, or a Birthday Cake Smoothie.
- Be sure to share the recipes or menu at least a week in advance to give parents enough time to gather any foods they might not have on hand.
- When it’s time to dig in, ask kids share their thoughts on what they’re eating. Let them vote on their favorite food or do a quick “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down” survey!
Send treats or party favors to attendees to make them feel more involved in the party experience. Edible treats are yet another fun way that guests can eat together, and what kid doesn’t love a goody bag? Here are a few tips and things to consider when you send food or party favors.
- Survey Guests. Ask guests about any food allergies or dietary restrictions and the best place to drop off food or goody bags in case no one’s home.
- Make it Sweet. Cupcakes are the perfect food to prompt a “Happy Birthday” song for the guest of honor. Cookies, cake pops, and sweet snacks like Birthday Cake Popcorn are also good options as they’re easy to make and easy to transport.
- Make it Fresh. Make any foods either the day before or the day of the event. If you bake on the day of the party, be sure to leave enough time for the treat to cool.
- Make it Festive. Whether it’s a plastic bag or small container, ask the birthday kid help you dress up the treat with ribbons, stickers, or glitter!
- Drum Up Excitement. Match goody bag items with the party theme and drop them off the morning of the party to build anticipation for the event.
Don’t Overdo It
Try to keep the celebration simple, especially if this is a first-time virtual celebration, or if there are people involved who are less tech-savvy or have time constraints. Remember that children, especially young ones, can get overwhelmed if they have to sit still for too long. Finally, try not to cram too many activities into the party and, most importantly, have fun!
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